Next year is the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States. If one is old enough, the images of that day, especially those of the fire-filled, crumbling Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan, are seared into memory. As New Mexico writer Jesse Ehrenberg put it in the new book New Mexico Remembers 9/11, “And the people trapped, more than one hundred stories above the ground, their only choice to die in flames or jump out into the sky, and fall like leaves, screaming, (screams that would never be heard, but our imaginations would never forget.)”
The book was conceived of and edited by Corrales’ Patricia Walkow, who has her own particular tale of that day. It was published by Artemesia Press on October 13, New Mexico Remembers 9/11 will be available as an e-book or in paperback.
Walkow was in California on business, her husband in Corrales, headed to his job at Sandia Labs, on September 11. Her first concern was for her brother’s wife, who worked in a building in the World Trade Center. (Jeanne, her sister-in-law, made it safely home from Lower Manhattan, though covered in debris.) Walkow’s next issue was getting safely back to New Mexico. Planes, trains, buses —all air transport stopped, the rest was jammed up. But she did have a Hertz car rented, and regardless of husbandly concerns, inspired by the notion of safely being back home, and all that home meant, she decided to drive back to Albuquerque. Hertz waived the return fee. She arrived safely, without drama, reuniting with her husband at the Owl Cafe, just off I-40.
Clearly, the notion of “home” being attacked, of the United States’ presumed strength and supposed invulnerability crushed in New York and Washington, DC, and the saga of bravely united yet doomed passengers bringing down a plane in a field in Pennsylvania, left its mark on Walkow. She says, too, that she “wanted to create a body of work that enshrines the connectedness that New Mexico has to the rest of the country.”
Twenty-five people contributed to the book, the prime requirement being that they were witnesses to 9/11, wherever they lived at the time, and that they currently live in New Mexico. Walkow particularly wanted the memories/reactions of young people as well.
A native of Manhattan who grew up in Brooklyn, Walkow has lived in New Mexico for many years after a career in informational tech, based in Glendale, California. She first met her husband, Walter, in 1968 at a Christmas party where he asked her to dance. And Walkow had one of those bizarre “this is the man I will marry” moments. She did so, in 1972.
She writes in her office at home, her baby grand there no longer played as often as it might be —it needs a tune up— and recalled recently the fun she had doing a column for the Glendale News Press in the 1980s called “Dog’s Day Out.” Her canine at the time, Cheyenne, was once delightedly recognized by a gentleman who said “That’s the dog who writes that column!”
Now retired and fully committed to writing projects, a co-founder of the Corrales Writing Group and on the board of SouthWest Writers, Walkow favors the books of Barbara Kingsolver, “likes depth of character” in what she reads, and actually prefers non-fiction to fiction.
Her latest project with co-CWG member Chris Allen, however, is a murder mystery set in southeast New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains. Titled Lake Fortuna at the moment, it also contains a spoonful of romance.
Her biggest personal success thus far may be a “narrative biography” about her husband’s father called “The War Within, the Story of Josef,” described as the story of a “teenage Christian Polish slave laborer, forced to work in Nazi Germany.” The book was self-published via CreateSpace in 2016.
Pushing the envelope on writing “what you know,” which actually means writing from your observations, imagination, dreams and such, she’s also pondering returning to a manuscript she set aside, about a widowed missionary in Southeast Asia in the 1900s who falls for an African-American minister.